The Master is busy now

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Jesus didn’t have voice mail or email, of course. He did have many people trying to find Him, to see Him, to talk to Him, to ask Him for something. We know that He was very patient and that He spent long hours meeting His people and meeting their needs. We know that He always has something to teach us, no matter what He does. Every word and action of Jesus is deliberate and full of meaning. With Jesus, there is no “random.”

 

This Sunday, unless you find yourself at an RCIA Scrutiny Mass, the Gospel contains a perplexing moment, one that can make us think — and make us pray. Jesus is told by Philip and Andrew that there are some Greek people asking to see Him. Jesus, as far as we can tell, does not agree to see them. In fact, He acts as if He hasn’t heard the request. Read the passage again in your well-worn Catholic Bible. It seems almost as if this request from more “outsiders” has triggered something within Jesus. It makes one think that He was waiting for this moment to signal the dramatic, historic, world-saving events of His Hour — the Passion, Death and Resurrection.

The Greeks have approached Philip, who has a Greek name and who likely spoke Greek. Philip doesn’t bring their request to Jesus. Instead he tells Andrew. Why? From Jesus response we can gather that He already was in a different mode, a noticeably altered frame of mind.

Andrew and the rest surely had brought many requests of the people to Jesus. This time he proceeds as usual but, as they seem to have expected, the response He gives is different, a response meant to teach them and to teach us.

What did Jesus say? "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Ignoring the request to meet more people, Jesus explains that it is now time for Him to do what He came to do — for them, for us and for all people. He continues explaining the mysterious way of life Christians will live. They will have to follow Him on this road through suffering to fruitfulness and to life that remains. It is a life that is given by the Father and is lived in obedience to the Father. Jesus has always lived it perfectly but now it is growing very heavy and intense. The Apostles can see Him begin to face the events of the week that was now beginning.

The Greeks wanted to know more about and more from this man, Jesus. They had seen His exciting entry and welcome into His own city. They might have felt rebuffed by not getting to see Him. Perhaps, though, the Apostles explained to them that the Master was about some important things … for He was about His Father’s business. "I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

The intense determination of Jesus, the eager acceptance of His saving work, drew the attention of His Apostles and maybe even the inquisitive Greek seekers. We can imagine how much it affected them to experience what happens next: Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

The Apostles were already drawn to Him, watching His every reaction and noting His every word. Soon, He said, everyone would be drawn to Him. The most important event of all time was at hand. The Teacher who wouldn’t receive a few visitors seeking to see Him would soon teach them — and all the world — by including us in the embrace of His Sacrifice.

Fr. Zuberbueler is pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018